Some AMD boards with the budget B550 chipset cost more than X570

AMD B550 motherboard
(Image credit: MSI)

AMD's newest CPUs, the Ryzen 3 3100 and Ryzen 3 3300X are known entities, and both are impressive in their own way. The CPUs are only part of the story though, and the new B550 motherboards that support their full feature set are vital for weighing up their overall value proposition. Which is why B550 pricing is so important.

The good news is that Gigabyte and MSI have now announced pricing and the features of their upcoming motherboards: Gigabyte has posted details of its 11 B550 motherboards on reddit, while MSI produced a two hour live stream of its announcement of the same number of motherboards. 

The somewhat surprising news is that the pricing for the top end boards is more than you'd expect to pay for the more affordable X570-based offerings. With the X570 chipset being the only PCIe 4.0 option for Ryzen 3000 boards until now, most manufacturers have created affordable versions themselves, which makes high-priced B550 boards a bit of an oddity. 

Gigabyte's top offering, the B550 Aorus Master has an MSRP of $279, while the MSI B550 Gaming Carbon Wifi is a cool $219. Given that X570 chipset has more love for PCIe 4.0 than the B550 does, that might seem like a strange decision by both motherboard manufacturers. Even with the motherboard shortages we're experiencing right now you can pick up a low-end X570 for $160. But will you get more performance from a budget X570 than a high-spec B550? Probably not.

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AMD B450 vs B550 vs X570 chipset comparison
Header Cell - Column 0 B450 ChipsetB550 ChipsetX570 Chipset
CPU Graphics Supportx16 PCIe Gen 3x16 PCIe Gen 4x16 PCIe Gen 4
CPU Storage SupportPCIe Gen 3PCIe Gen 4PCIe Gen 4
CPU USB PortsUSB 3.1 Gen 1USB 3.2 Gen2USB 3.2 Gen2
Dual Graphics SupportNoYesYes
General Purpose LanesPCIe Gen 2PCIe Gen 3PCIe Gen 4
CPU Chipset UplinkPCIe Gen 3PCIe Gen 3PCIe Gen 4
Overclocking SupportYesYesYes

There were a few B450 motherboards in the last generation which cost more than their X470 compadres, but in the 400-series high-end B450s were still much less prevalent.

Whatever happens at the high end I'm much more interested in what's going on at the other end of the price spectrum, which in both cases means you're looking at smaller micro-ATX boards. The Gigabyte B550M DS3H can be had for $94, while the MSI B550M Pro-Dash is its cheapest offering at $119. 

The smaller form factor isn't much of an issue, as it essentially means you lose out on a few PCIe slots, but it also affords you the option of going with smaller, more affordable cases. There's no real information about either board at this point though, other than the pricing, so it's maybe still worth taking a look slightly further up the stack.

MSI has announced a 11 motherboards so far, including the B550-A Pro.

MSI has announced a 11 motherboards so far, including the B550-A Pro. (Image credit: MSI)

If we move up to full ATX motherboards, then the MSI B550-A Pro is the most affordable option from MSI at $139, while the Gigabyte B550 Aorus Pro rocks in $10 cheaper at $129. There is information on both of these motherboards on the manufacturer's websites, which at least means we can throw a comparison together.

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Gigabyte B550 Aorus vs. MSI B550-A Pro
Header Cell - Column 0 Gigabyte B550 AorusMSI B550-A Pro
DDR4 memory support2133-5400 MHz1866-4800 MHz
DIMM slots44
Max Memory128GB128GB
PCIe x1622
SATA 3 ports66
M.2 slots22
AudioRealtek ALC1220-VBRealtek ALC892
LANRealtek 8188 2.5GbE LANRealtrek RTL8111H Gigabit LAN
Video-out1x HDMI1x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI

If you take a look at the table above you'll discover there isn't a lot between the two motherboards. The memory support appears to differ, but I suspect this is just down to how MSI and Gigabyte have elected to show A-XMP support, although memory qualification lists are far more important here anyway. 

The only real differences of note is the Ethernet support, with the Gigabyte board supporting 2.5GbE while the MSI is straight gigabit. The MSI offers a DisplayPort connector as well as the HDMI port, while the Gigabyte only has the latter, which is worth considering if you're looking to pop an APU into either board. 

Gigabyte has also announced its B550 motherboards, including the $129 B550 Aorus Pro.

Gigabyte has also announced its B550 motherboards, including the $129 B550 Aorus Pro. (Image credit: Gigabyte)

Obviously we'll need to see these motherboards in action before we can recommend one over the other, as well as taking on board other options, such as the Asus ROG Strix B550-F Gaming. On that point, you'll find the specifications for plenty of Asus B550 motherboards on this microsite, although there's no word on pricing just yet. Hopefully Asus will be aiming a bit lower than MSI and Gigabyte, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

Alan Dexter

Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.